Media encounter by the President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, at the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace

New York, 24 April 2018

President of the General Assembly (PGA): Good afternoon. We are halfway through the first day of our high-level event on peacebuilding, sustaining peace and prevention of conflicts. I can say I am very pleased with the attention that world leaders are paying to this event. And I can say that, even at this moment, we have already met two goals that we had set for ourselves. The first one was to give greater visibility and greater prominence to the issue of peace and prevention of conflict. And we have almost 50 Member States represented by their Heads of State or Head of Government or Ministers or Vice Ministers. This speaks for itself – how important this issue is for the Member States.

The second outcome that we already have achieved is the agreement on a resolution that will be formally voted on tomorrow. This resolution makes sure that there will be follow-up; there will be a continuation of this process. And we will look into the best ways of how to finance prevention. Of course, the Secretary-General was asked to provide additional reports dealing with these issues.

The third outcome is the one that I wish to see, and that would mean many new ideas, good models that can be implemented more widely, lessons learned from certain Member States that can be taken over and implemented in other countries. And I‘m very much looking forward to the continuation of this discussion and also to the four interactive roundtables that we are starting this afternoon and will continue also in the morning tomorrow.

Question: Besides the huge attendance… and expected outcomes…, are you somehow afraid the discussion will be too general without too many specifics on certain issues, like Syria…?

PGA: No, we will definitely have more than just a discussion, even though I have to stress that discussion is a good thing – because discussion means that we are talking and listening to each other. But we are going to adopt a resolution. We are going to issue a statement of the chair, that will summarize the most important ideas that are presented here. The Heads of State who are here are coming from countries that have firsthand experience with either conflicts or prevention of conflicts – The Gambia, Colombia, Central African Republic, Ireland. So the leaders presented their experience, their views, very concrete examples. Ministers who have spoken so far are also speaking about very concrete examples. So obviously this is a plenary debate. But I am very pleased that we are having a very concrete and fact-based discussion.

And as I said, we will have four roundtables which are designed to be interactive, which will generate more dialogue. And I am sure we will end up with a number of very good suggestions and ideas that can help to improve the work of the United Nations System when it comes to peace and prevention of conflicts.

Question: Tell us about some of the good models you plan to implement in the future. And how does this whole idea of peacebuilding and sustaining peace mesh with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

PGA: Well, first of all, we made it very clear that you cannot speak about peace in separation from development and from human rights. So this new approach to sustaining peace that was reflected in the “twin resolutions” adopted in 2016 expects and demands a comprehensive approach. So obviously you cannot talk and think about meeting the Sustainable Development Goals in a situation when a country or region is in conflict. Therefore, peace is a precondition and prerequisite for development and also for the respect of human rights. And one of the formal reasons for this meeting is the fact that it’s taking place two years after the first resolutions on sustaining peace were adopted. And it’s also an opportunity for us to see how much has been achieved, how much the work of the United Nations has improved, has changed for the better, what needs to be done for the future. So it’s also a stocktaking exercise in a way.

Question: Is the UN moving fast enough? For example, on Myanmar, the General Assembly voted that the Secretary-General should appoint an envoy. That was in December. Now it’s April. There’s still no envoy… What do you say to the lack of an envoy?

PGA: It’s not for me to answer this question. I’m sure that procedures are taking place in the Secretariat, but I am not familiar with the details.



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